Aviva Premiership: Bath win top-four battle with Harlequins
Last Updated: 21/12/13 6:40pm
Jonathan Joseph: Scored the only try of an attritional game
Bath moved clear in third place in the Aviva Premiership table after securing a 14-3 victory over fellow top-four hopefuls Harlequins at the Recreation Ground.
The hosts, who are now six points above fourth-placed Quins, won the physical battle before killing off their opponents with a stunning try by centre Jonathan Joseph.
England full-back Mike Brown was left clutching thin air as the speedy Joseph ran round him to the line in the early stages of the second half.
Bath went into the contest seeking to extend their unbeaten record at home in the league to a full year and to post their 11th win on the bounce.
Fly-half George Ford opened the scoring with a 30-metre penalty in the opening minutes and was presented with an even easier chance to make it 6-0 shortly afterwards.
However, the visitors were soon piling on the pressure and centre Tim Molenaar surged into the Bath 22, only to spill the ball in Ford's last-ditch tackle.
Ford was forced to relieve the pressure with a series of kick but, when body-checked by George Robson, the young playmaker stepped up to the tee to put Bath 9-0 ahead on 25 minutes.
His opposite number Nick Evans finally put Quins on the board with a 30-metre kick in the 28th minute and Ford then missed a couple of chances from difficult angles shortly before half-time.
But Quins did not get off scot-free as Charlie Walker was sin-binned for a tip-tackle on Anthony Watson, meaning the visitors started the second half a man short.
That still did not entirely explain how they allowed Joseph to pierce the defensive line so easily for his score on 46 minutes which Ford failed to convert.
As the game opened up going into the final quarter, Bath's defence had to be just as alert to the threat of the Quins' backs but territory, possession and the penalty count were swinging the way of the home side.
Skipper Chris Robshaw rallied his players into a compelling spell of high-tempo rugby as the game drifted into the last 10 minutes but the Bath back row was equal to the task.
Quins continued to come forward but saw their last chance go begging when Tom Guest was held up on the line from a catch-and-drive and Bath finished the job by marching back the visitors' scrum to force the penalty.